"China's ruling Communist Party is seriously considering a delay in its upcoming five-yearly congress by a few months," Reuters reported in early May. "The top party leaders are considering a proposal to move the 18th congress, originally scheduled for September or October, to between November and January."
While the top two posts, president and premier, are not considered in much doubt, "any delay in the congress, no matter the official reason, would likely fuel speculation of infighting over the remaining seats in the nine-member politburo standing committee which calls the shots in China."
This unconfirmed report came in the wake of the removal of Chongqing City Communist Party chief Bo Xilai and the arrest of his wife Gu Kailai on suspicion of involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood - events which have been described as "China's biggest political scandal in two decades". Bo had been seen as a candidate to join China's top leadership team at the upcoming Congress meeting, but neither he nor his wife have been seen in public for some weeks.
While there have been suggestions of a possible wider purge of Bo's supporters, President Hu Jintao has called for a show of unity in the lead-up to the Congress. "The central leadership wants to focus on ensuring a stable environment for the 18th Party Congress, so the guiding policy is to end all the rumours and contention," said one retired leader (Reuters).
"The removal of Bo, who had aspired for one of the top leadership seats, has opened the way for fresh jockeying among rival candidates," suggests Reuters. During July and August, China's top leaders head to summer villas in the coastal resort of Beidahe and the new succession line-up is likely to be firmed up at that time.
Let's press through in prayer for China in the light of this major political scandal.
Pray for the Lord to bring good out of these unsettling events. Pray that people of integrity might come to positions of power in China.
Pray for God's purposes to be fulfilled as even now top leaders are likely in discussions as to who will oversee the country in coming years. Pray for the 18th Party Congress to take place in His timing.
Pray for former Chongqing Party leader Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kalai. May they be convicted by the Holy Spirit and brought to repentance and faith.